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Dozens sentenced to death over murders of U.N. experts in Congo -Breaking


DAKAR (Reuters). -On Saturday, around 50 persons were sentenced in Democratic Republic of Congo to death in relation to the 2017 murders of U.N. experts Zaida Katalan (OTC) said a defense lawyer.

Tresor Kabangu represented many defendants at the trial and stated that a local immigration officer was one of those who received death sentences. A colonel in the army was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The death penalty has been suspended in Congo since 2003. Therefore, those who are convicted of crimes will receive life sentences.

Thomas Fessy from Human Rights Watch, the senior Congo researcher, said that investigators failed to consider the possibility of involvement by higher-ranking officials, while Catalan’s sister claimed the trial did not reveal the truth.

Sharp, an American and Catalan (a Swede) were looking into the violence between the government forces and militia in central Kasai. In March 2017, they were pulled over by armed men. They then marched into the field, where Sharp was executed.

The killings were attributed to the Kamuina Nsapu militia by Congolese officials. Initially, they claimed that no state agents were involved. But later, they arrested the colonel as well as several other officials whom they believed were supporting the rebels.

A military court from Kananga handed down its verdict after a five-year long trial that was marred by delays, deaths and multiple arrests.

Thomas Nkashama was among those who were sentenced to die. He is a local immigration officer that met Catalan, Sharp and the day before they died, Kabangu said to Reuters. Some others were members of militia.

Kabangu stated that Colonel Jean de Dieu Mambweni also met up with Catalans and Sharp prior to their mission. He was sentenced for 10 years.

A few of these defendants were not apprehended, or they escaped custody.

Elisabeth Morseby Catalan’s sister said that after the verdict the evidence in the case had dubious reliability due to how long the defendants spent in prison. She also said that Mambweni’s conviction was an elaborate smokescreen.

She told Reuters that in order to uncover the truth, everyone, even those at the top of the hierarchy, must be questioned.

Congo’s Chief Military Prosecutor is not available immediately for comment. Previous prosecutions have stated that they used the evidence available.

Fessy stated that there are still many questions after the verdict.

“The investigations and the trial failed to reveal all of the facts about what occurred. “The U.N. should support Congolese authorities to investigate any critical roles that high-ranking officials might have played in these murders,” he stated.

Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister (NYSE:), reiterated the call via Twitter (NYSE.:): “Crucial and ongoing investigation regarding others involved continues to uncover truth and bring justice. We urge Congo authorities to cooperate fully with the U.N. mechanism.”